skip to Main Content

Scalia & Ginsburg: The Nation’s Judicial Odd Couple


When Justice Antonin Scalia passed away earlier this week, our nation lost one of its most powerful voices for a conservative interpretation of the law. In an era of partisan rancor, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that within the nation’s highest court, disagreement doesn’t necessarily mean disagreeability. “Nino and RBG, the court’s most famous odd couple friendship…stood as an example of warmth and professionalism across traditional divides,” writes Irin Carmon this week in The Washington Post. It turns out that Justice Scalia’s best friend on the highest court was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an equally powerful voice for a progressive interpretation of the Constitution. Though they voted against each other on case after case, they always respected each other’s legal acumen. “’If you can’t disagree ardently with your colleagues about some issues of law and yet personally still be friends, get another job, for Pete’s sake,’ is how Scalia once described their lifetime appointments.” For showing us how wisdom and civility can work, on a personal and on an institutional level, we salute Justice Scalia at his passing. As Carmon concludes in her Washington Post piece, “Whether or not it was how Scalia saw it, for Ginsburg their public friendship also made a statement about the court as an institution: that it was strengthened by respectful debate, that it could work no matter how polarized its members were.”